In “A Time For Mercy”, Jake Brigance ends up with an unpopular defendant in a very divisive trial. This story line may sound familiar to you, if you have read John Grisham’s novel, “A Time to Kill”, published in 1989. Again, Jake Brigance is a masterful protagonist in a “Time for Mercy”. He is faced with a case where the evidence apparently is stacked to one side, but compassion stands on the other side begging for truth and justice to be served.
It is 1990 in small town Clanton, Mississippi. Jake Brigance finds himself as the court appointed attorney for Drew Gamble, a sixteen year old charged with the murder of an off duty law enforcement officer. The evidence seems overwhelming for a quick trial and a death penalty conviction. However, Jake discovers there is more to the story and is determined to save Drew from the gas chamber.
The investigation into the shooting death of Stuart Kofer, a Clanton police officer, follows a path the requires diligent examination of evidence regarding a web of multiple factors, including:
- capital punishment for underage defendants
- domestic violence
- sexual abuse
- Bible belt attitudes toward abortion vs adoption
- police code of silence
- justifiable homicide
Jake’s job becomes a mission to untangle the web and achieve justice for Drew.
Jake is not alone in his search for the truth. Grisham portrays a strong collection of secondary characters. You are walked through the detail of pretrial preparation. Portia Lang, Jake’s paralegal, and Lucien Wilbanks, his legal mentor, have significant influence on the direction of the defense. The novel is populated with complex, interesting people.
I found myself able to picture small town Mississippi, both its beauty and its ugliness. I could sense the tension in the courtroom as unpopular subjects were presented and uncovered. Anger and hatred are palpable. Compassion ad forgiveness are clear and inescapable.
Jake Brigance – Crusader for the Underdog
The final question is, “Will Matthew McConaughey return as Jake Brigance?”